Greenhouse Manage Andrew Stairs adresses the forum.

Growing concepts, feeding a community

A forum on agriculture introduced the community to some ideas Nak'azdli is working on.

Fort St. James has a farmer’s market through the summer, fishing and hunting are common sources of meat and you can buy local beef in stores, yet locally produced food does not make up the majority of the community’s diet.

But Nak’azdli is looking at changing this.

With the construction of one greenhouse, the Mt. Pope Greenhouse project began production this year, growing a range of tomatoes to see what would work in local conditions. Tomatoes were sold in the Sana’aih Market for the community later in the summer, once the necessary cleaning processes were in place.

It was a small step, but the first step in what could be a major project for the community and could lead to more sustainable food production.

A forum on the project to collect feedback and ideas from the community gathered around 50 people in Kwah Hall on Nov. 28 for the open forum on agriculture and food production on Naka’zdli territory and included guests from the Ministry of Agriculture office in Smithers and Community Futures.

The Greenhouse Manager Andrew Stairs highlighted what had been achieved so far with the first greenhouse, through the first sale of tomatoes to businesses in the community.

A secondary crop of strawberries was also planted, with first production expected next year.

The forum offered Stairs an opportunity to discuss a proposed model farm project, which would expand the food production to more greenhouses, raised beds, a vegetable field and potentially even livestock.

The forum also brought forward the idea being proposed by the Upper Fraser Fisheries Conservation Alliance to help offset Fraser  River salmon population decline with extensive lake stocking.

But the focus was on agriculture, and Stairs introduced the proposed model farm and then allowed people to form breakout groups for discussion and brainstorming on the specific topics of: greenhouse crops, medicinal plants, field vegetables, livestock and fish.

There are many issues left to address, Stairs acknowledged, including land use issues and competing interests with industry.

The forum was to get community involvement and start people thinking about food by “collecting ideas that can be translated into action,” said Stairs.

He said the sky is the limit for ideas, but they have to be grounded in reality.

After the forum, Stairs said he will be compiling the information and ideas into a report he will present to the Nak’azdli Band, likely next spring.

While he said it is a bureaucratic process, the steps need to be taken and after he has prioritized the results of the first consultation, this can be used to guide the future investments in infrastructure.

Stairs said elder Betsy Leon put it best when she opened the forum by talking about Nak’azdli’s past traditions with sustainable food production, when the community had their own gardens.

He said  even though we live in north-central B.C., it is possible to have a viable agricultural enterprise.

Agriculture could provide long-term employment for the community, said Stairs, while mining and forestry provide short-term resource-dependent jobs.

“We’re looking to the past to create the future,” said Stairs.

 

Just Posted

B.C. chiefs show solidarity with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs

Chiefs from around B.C. outside the Coastal GasLink pipeline route in Smithers show support.

Woman killed in head-on crash near Vanderhoof

RCMP say driver crossed the centre line and hit a loaded fuel tanker truck

RCMP to review actions at Wet’suwet’en pipeline protest camps

Senior Mountie says he hopes protests will be peaceful following deal with hereditary chiefs

‘Tripod’ delays access to Unist’ot’en camp

Social media rumours of cultural significance quashed, meaning police “exclusion zones” should end.

Hereditary chiefs negotiate injunction agreement

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs abide by interim injunction, but gate stays up. Still opposed.

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Cariboo man pleads guilty to second degree murder in death of former girlfriend

Michael Martel admits to violent attack on Vesna Dumpstrey-Soos in 100 Mile House

Most Read